Showing posts with label code of practice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label code of practice. Show all posts

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Debenhams ‘little help’ from suppliers...

If you have received notice of an alleged discount  of 2.5% on invoices outstanding on 17th December, you will have already calculated the incremental sales you need via Debenhams to cover the cost…?

Workings: (simply substitute your figures below)
  • Suppose Sales to the customer £2m/annum, average payment period 45 days, i.e. 365/45, i.e. 8 times /year
  • Suppose your Net Profit, before tax on customer’s business is 5%
  • Average amount outstanding is £250k i.e. £2m/8
  • 2.5% of £250k  is £6.25k i.e. by allowing an additional 2.5% off invoice, you are giving £6.25k from your net profit, before tax, to the customer
  • Therefore, £6.25k/5 x 100 = £125k = incremental sales you require to cover the cost of making an additional investment of £6.25k in the customer…
This raises several issues:
  • Creation of a precedent in terms of similar retrospective demands from customers in the future – ‘remember that new store we opened in ’93?’
  • One more step towards ‘common industry practice’ quotable by other retailers requiring similar help from suppliers
  • A reminder that in  buying and selling, one is dealing with independent legal entities, making what should be legally enforceable agreements…
  • A deal is a deal, or should be… i.e. a retrospective demand without consultation undermines an agreement, and should be a trigger for renegotiation, or walkaway…
Given these unprecedented times, this type of request should be an opportunity to check out the consequences of each customer wanting similar help i.e. if your total UK sales are £50m, a 2.5% ‘one-off’ discount on outstanding invoices would require incremental sales of £3,125k, in a flat-line environment…. However, if all suppliers stand firm on existing agreements, causing some customers to eventually go bust, then perhaps running a ‘what if’ calculation on the financial consequences of a customer going into liquidation should form part of a reassessment of your total relationship with major customers, on the way to fair share negotiation…

Eventually, all suppliers will have to face up to the reality of 'what business they are in', the reward-for-risk balance required to make it worthwhile, with the Debenhams Christmas initiative presenting an opportunity to scope out the options available, before the banks do it for you…

Friday 6 July 2012

Farmers Escalate Milk Price-Cuts Protest

The impact of the price cuts ‘amounts to a combined profit warning for the overwhelming majority of dairy farmers in this country’ and reports indicate that supermarkets are to be targeted by blockade-protests from farmers. In some cases, given the fact that cows need milking daily, farmers plan to distribute the undelivered milk free-of-charge outside supermarkets.

In fact, in 2009 continental farmers resorted to more extreme measures such as spraying three day’s supply of unused milk onto fields and at the police.

A call to action
Yesterday, an unprecedented meeting of farming unions called for the immediate reversal of milk price cuts imposed on UK farmers since 1 April. The NFU chaired the meeting of leaders from NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) and Farmers for Action who came together in an industry show of strength after a catastrophic three months for the sector.

The representatives called for all milk price cuts imposed on farmers since 1 April to be restored by 1 August. They also plan a crisis summit in London on Wednesday 11 July.

Impact on consumer-retailer-supplier relationship
As savvy consumers, we need to run the numbers and realise that constant pressure on shelf-prices pushes back up the supply chain and in the case of clothing can eventually end with child labour abuses in third world countries. In a similar way, relentless pressure on milk prices can result in farmers going bust.

As savvy retailers, we need to run the numbers to ensure that in attempting to meet real consumer-needs, on-shelf availability is not traded off against the need for competitive pricing.

As savvy suppliers, we need to run the numbers to ensure that the total-offer-package meets consumer need better than available competition. In other words, we need to strip back any aspect of Product, Presentation and Place that may be superfluous to consumer need, and sell at a Price that represents better value than the competition.

Going forward
We then need be able to apply a similar numbers-based rationale in assembling a needs-based trade package that enables us to negotiate ‘fair-share’ deals with trade-partner retailers. These are retailers that can appreciate, and accommodate, the realities of each stage of the demand-supply chain in running efficient and effective routes to savvy consumers, in an open, needs-based market environment, offering a package that represents better value than the competition…..

All else is detail.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Buyer-seller corruption, a potential hot-potato for all?

Yesterday’s court case involving large-scale corrupt payments to a potato buyer raises important issues for suppliers and retailers. Given the potential impact on share prices of both parties, coupled with ever stringent corporate and government monitoring in these unprecedented times, it is surprising that anyone is nowadays prepared to take the risk of being a party to corrupt inducements to buy. In other words, it needs just one person with a conscience, or a grievance, to lift the lid….

However, given that the current plaintiff was arrested in 2008, with the case having now arrived in court, it could be said that parties on each side of the seller-buyer relationship harbouring any doubts re. their version of the selling-buying process have had adequate time to reflect on the implications and take appropriate action.

The distinction between gifts and bribery
If buying decisions were made solely on objective, rational criteria, a computer would probably do a better job. Instead, given that the basic offer satisfies the key objective criteria, then a host of emotional criteria/influences/needs come into play.

Emotional needs in buying 
These include needs for avoiding effort, self-esteem, (pride, self-importance, power), to imitate, to acquire money (via saving vs. making, for the company) need for possession (icing-on-cake), investigate (data), create (new), sense of duty, and especially a need for security (avoiding fear). These can include meals out, or even a bottle of whisky at Christmas.

It needs to be emphasised that such attempts to satisfy the emotional needs of a buyer are not corruption, they are merely ‘icing on the cake’ by way of celebrating a done deal, a deal which ticks all the rational, objective boxes.

Bribery defined
Bribery is quite clearly an overt inducement to the buyer to over-ride the logic of a buying decision where a supplier’s competitor is patently offering a better deal on a like-with-like basis. In other words, the supplier’s offering is equal with that of the competitor except for the additional £10k on the price to fund the bribe.

This point, the first of many, was brought out yesterday in court by the prosecution: "A peculiar feature of the corruption was that it was self-funding. [The supplier was] not paying for it, [the retailer was] paying for the corruption of their own buyer and this was achieved by overcharging [the retailer]".

Action for NAMs and KAMs
The answer for NAMs/KAM’s is always to attempt to revert to the base deal and check that it satisfies objective buying criteria (the buyer’s job needs), like-with-like, before focusing on the buyer’s emotional needs. In practice some of this process occurs simultaneously, but it remains vital that the supplier’s basic offering is defensible and transparent, always, and with 20/20 hindsight…..its the nature of the job, folks. 

Wednesday 14 March 2012

If a customer delays payment... Time for the six honest serving men?

In the current climate, it is probably more a question of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’, but for the moment let us stick with the main question.
Either way, payment delays cost you money and increase your risk-exposure.
Although credit control is someone else’s job, you are the one with total responsibility without authority.
And besides, would you really want a finance colleague trying to get incremental sales from a customer, in order to recover lost profit?
The key issue is ‘why’ the delay?
Essentially, the customer is either in trouble, short of working capital or someone else is shouting louder (a rival supplier offering more Settlement Discount?).
‘Who’ is driving them?
If the ‘who’ happens to be the bank, a quick check of their recent annual report (remember ‘what’ you downloaded from Companies House within minutes of publication four months ago but is still on your ‘must-read' list?) in the Balance Sheet ‘where’ in the outside borrowing section you will find creditors i.e those excluding the guys ‘who’ give them credit free of charge, trade creditors, like you…
This will help you calculate their gearing, and if significantly greater than 30% of Shareholders Funds, it is time to reach for the button…
While checking the Annual Report, the P&L will also reveal the Net Margin for two years, and if less than 2% and heading South, any upward correction is going to be at your expense…
‘How’ it happens?
This will come via ‘deductions’, possibly a delay in payment because of faults/shortages in delivery, with each invoice presenting a new opportunity…
‘How’ you deal with rolling invoice queries can be an opportunity for you to shine in in-house financial circles.
‘What’ to do about it?
How about dividing your annual sales to the customer by twelve, and negotiate with their buyer/finance department that they pay a fixed ‘twelft’ each month by standing-order for eleven months, leaving the final month’s invoice for all the queries?
The end-game..
If the customer is simply reflecting a supplier’s bad invoicing discipline, then the above approach combined with more accuracy on your part, will probably work.
However, if the buyer is simply using excuses, any excuses, to delay payment, this will tell you ‘when’ it is time to give the six honest serving men a rest and ring the lawyers…

P.S. According to Kipling, the 'men' rest from nine-to-five, and never skip meals...  Perhaps 24/7 NAMs/ KAMs need other tools for office-hours?

Thursday 1 March 2012

Making Settlement Discount Work

With the major multiples collectively owing UK suppliers approx. £10bn at any time and paying on average in 43 days, this free credit represents both cost and risk. With banks unwilling to lend, retailers can be a source of finance. As cash-machines that happen to sell groceries, retailers can even be willing to pay on delivery, if the price is right

Monday 9 January 2012

The Iron Lady - Lessons for NAMs in Thatcher remake?

Gordon Reece, a former television producer, has been widely credited with masterminding Mrs Thatcher’s change of image, advising her to adopt a softer hairstyle, get rid of her “fussy” clothes and stick to a high neckline and pastel shades. Crucially, he also advised her to lower the tone of her voice and speak more slowly and closer to the microphone to make her voice husky, intimate and, above all, less hectoring….
A team of well-known experts in their respective fields then focused on each aspect and helped to bring about the subtle changes that all boiled down to being herself, with emphasis..

Politics apart, in terms of learnings for your NAM role, by all means wear a ring in your nose, a pony-tail and goth-gear if that is your preferred weekend presentational mode but it just means that you have to work a bit harder to neutralise the resulting ‘negative‘ influence on a more conventional buyer, more accustomed to visits from competitor NAMs wearing horn-rimmed glasses and hair parted on the left…
However, whilst you may (or have to) be open to corporate advice on how best to present yourself to the buyer, ultimately, like Maggie, you are the one in charge…

Thursday 15 December 2011

Bullying suppliers: the noose tightens…

Australia’s Coles group has reportedly issued a document to its buyers, warning them to work within the rules and not to bully suppliers. The highly unusual move was reported by The Weekly Times, which said it had seen the document, titled ‘Compliance Factsheet - Unconscionable Conduct’ and said to include “threatening to delete or withdraw a product unless a supplier provides greater funding, rebates or discounts than otherwise previously agreed”.
Despite being simply a local level example of government eventually reacting to ‘excessive market concentration’ this initiative should be seen as a global reaction to potential abuse of power by people who find themselves with the freedom to sign cheques in dealing with people who need the money…
The legislation to deal with this situation is already in place, with GSCOP a prime example in the UK.
Couple with this the emergence of the savvy consumer determined to receive demonstrable value-for-money in dealing with retailers and brand owners, and it is possible to see this ‘common sense’ assessment being transferred up the supply-chain. The global financial wake-up call simply swept away the nonsense, enabling all parties to see business dealing more clearly, and gave them the courage to demand evidence of fair-share behaviour…
Also, given the government’s willingness not to punish corporate whistle-blowers when illegal anti-competitive practices are exposed by one of the parties, it can be seen that major retailers will be increasingly tempted to complain to the authorities when they feel, or can prove, that rivals are gaining unfair competitive advantage via illegal pressure on suppliers.
However, in the meantime, a real opportunity exists for those retailers that are prepared to play fair in negotiating with suppliers of all sizes. Despite the global financial pressures, suppliers still have some discretion in allocating trade funding, and are prepared to go that extra mile, or even kilometre, with retailers that are playing by fair-share rules, the ultimate source of real and sustainable competitive advantage….

Friday 15 January 2010

GSCOP: Something for the final Weekend of 2009?

With the real 2010 finally kicking off next Monday (snow, etc?) the effect of the most fundamental change-agent in supplier-retailer trading relationships will begin to make an impact.
To help you hit the ground running, we have analysed 3 pages of the new GSCOP and added 3 pages of calculation pointers to help show that the parts dealing with Prices & Payments, Promotions and Other Duties can have a positive outcome, given the right tools…

Make the most of your last real reflective opportunity to put the GSCOP onto the 2010 Agenda, by downloading a personal copy of our free analysis

Have a reflective Weekend, from the Namnews Team!